Tuesday, November 10, 2009

H1N1? R2D2?

When Robby was about 18 months old we went to Arizona to spend Christmas with my family. Two days before we left for the trip he went to the pediatrician and he got his first flu shot. Within 12 hours of landing in Arizona he was already showing flu symptoms and by the second day there we were at an urgent care in a strange city seeking help. He had never been that sick. He had fever, chapped face, congestion and double ear infections.

I was convinced it was the flu shot that had made him sick. I was still convinced when our pediatrician insisted that the shot did not make him sick. That feeling I get at my core, my "mama sense" just knew that flu shot did not go well with my kid. I know my son better than anyone, even if I don't have a medical degree. I know that anyone who has had a child develop autism after a vaccination will understand that statement. John, and most members of his family, have all gotten the flu right after receiving a flu shot. Not every child reacts well.

When I read Jenny McCarthy's book, it moved me beyond words. I believe in vaccinations and Robby has received all of his vaccinations. People who do not vaccinate their children rely on the rest of the world to vaccinate theirs, preventing an outbreak where their child would be vulnerable. When a mother says that her child was completely fine and then after a vaccine unable to communicate and the light was gone from their eyes I believe her. Completely.
More research needs to be done. I can understand the CDC does not want mass hysteria to stop parents from vaccinating their children. Clearly, the greater harm lies in not vaccinating. But when the CDC flat out discounts these mother's feelings and stories, I call bullshit. As a parent, I reject recommendations being presented as facts. Give me the facts, then give me your recommendations. Help me by giving me the information I need to make a decision for my child.
Telling me what to do while not giving me all the information is manipulation.

Has anyone else noticed how swine flu has become H1N1? Suddenly the media is only using H1N1 when referring to this strain of flu. I can't help but wonder why and how this all came about. There is a short supply of this vaccine and everyone is scrambling to get one. I have to ask myself if this "shortage" and the coverage of it was planned. In our area, there are long lines of people lining up outside of clinics that announce it has the vaccination available. I've seen news footage of it here locally and in other parts of the country. I went with my mother to her cardiology appointment and when she asked if she should get a flu shot her doctor said that she most likely could not get one as even he and his colleagues at the hospital could not due to the shortage.

I try not to be a conspiracy theory lunatic (like my husband). At the same time, I don't want to be a sheep either. Clorox and Lysol are even using this flu scare to sell more of their products. I can't wait to see what other ways this flu scare will influence advertising. So much media input is bound to influence us in some way. I've actually decided against indoor public playgrounds for a while. I use hand sanitizer more. People have gotten ill. People have died. I don't want my child to get this flu. No of us do.

Ultimately, the decision whether or not to get a flu shot for your child falls to you, the parent. More than one parent has asked me what my decision is. I've told them that we decided against a flu shot but that they should get as much information as they can and make the decision they feel is right for their child. I tell them to get as much information as they can. Here is what the CDC says. I also tell them not to buy into the guilt either way. If they do not get a flu shot and their child develops flu, don't blame yourself. If you do give your child a flu shot and they get sick, don't blame yourself. Easier said than done.

1 comment:

Steve Misrack said...

When I was 2 years old, I was required to get a swine flu vaccination. Withing weeks I was in the hospital paralyzed with a rare disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). The doctors swore up and down that there was no way the two were linked.

Then when I was 7 (going into 1st grade) I was required to get a battery of shots (flu being one of them) and AGAIN contracted GBS. Again, the doctors swore there was no way this could be related.

In 2007, the CDC and doctors now acknowledge a link between flu shots and GBS. In fact, most flu waiver forms do not allow you to get a flu shot if you have ever had GBS.

One thought has served me well, "remember that 50% of all doctors finished in the bottom half of their class". Question, Question, Question... and if it doesn't feel right, don't do it and question some more.